Shoppers slow to venture back to tornado-damaged Preston and Royal

November 09, 2019 7:19 AM | Anonymous

By Maria Halkias
The Dallas Morning News

Almost all businesses on the northwest and northeast corners are now open. The Toy Maven has moved to try to save her holiday business. Preston Royal Cleaners and Lucy’s Tailor consolidated spaces.

Temporary traffic signals are seen at a parking entrance on the northeast corner of the Preston Royal Shopping Center, which was damaged by October's tornadoes.

Temporary traffic signals are seen at a parking entrance on the northeast corner of the Preston Royal Shopping Center, which was damaged by October's tornadoes.(Smiley N. Pool / Staff Photographer)

“We’re open.”

That’s the message tornado-damaged businesses on the northwest and northeast corners of Preston Road and Royal Lane want to send to their customers.

Almost three weeks after a tornado put two of the four corners out of business temporarily, the stores and restaurants that are open are worried that people have decided it’s not safe to venture back.

Their recovery from lost power and leaky roofs has been overshadowed by the more severe destruction at the same intersection.

The southwest and southeast corners of the intersection, anchored by Central Market, McDonald’s and dozens of small businesses, are surrounded by chain-link fences and have a long way to go until they can reopen.

And a handful of businesses on the northern side of the intersection — the AT&T store, Cantina Laredo, EatZi’s, Lash Studio, Einstein’s Bagels and Bank of America — are still closed due to damage from the Oct. 20 tornado.

But most stores on the north side in Preston Royal Village have reopened, some as recently as a couple of days ago.

Edens, the company that owns the two corners that make up the Preston Royal Village shopping center, says 90% of its tenants have reopened as of Friday.

Internet service used for phones and checkout systems is still an issue for many.

Kory Helfman, who owns Ken’s Man’s Shop, said his staff had to resort to handwritten receipts Thursday evening. “We’re trying to make up lost business,” he said. He opened a week ago and had a good Saturday. “People came in and said they wanted some normalcy.”

That’s what Rick Young and his two young daughters were looking for when they approached EatZi’s on Thursday evening. They were disappointed to find that it’s still closed. It plans to reopen Nov. 21.

“It’s the first really cold day, and we decided to get some comfort food,” Young said.

The Young family is back in a two-bedroom apartment they had lived in for a few months after selling their house while looking for a new one. Moving day was Oct. 20.

“We were all crowded in the laundry room with the movers,” Young said. “Our things were still in boxes.” Their new house was severely damaged, but no one was injured.

Ken Fernandez stopped by Preston Royal on his way home, also to pick up dinner.

Five years ago, he and his wife moved to Uptown after raising their children from 1990 to 2014 in a home a block north of North Haven Gardens. The nursery and his old home were both severely damaged.

“People keep saying we must be so glad we don’t live there anymore,” Fernandez said. “Well, no, it’s where we raised our children, and other people were living there.”

It’s a mixed bag all along the path of the tornado.

Several businesses in the shopping center are part of big retail chains: Tom Thumb, Barnes & Noble, Ballard Designs, Chico’s, Su la Table, Starbucks, Shake Shack, Omaha Steaks and Sephora. Big companies can deal with one store being briefly out of commission, but the smaller merchants are counting on themselves, Edens, the city and utilities to get it together.

“We need some balloons or something at the front door so people know we’re here,” said Traci Clay, who works at Kosart, a gift and home décor shop full of breakable things. She said it had only water damage along a wall on one side of the store.

The family that owns Lucy’s Tailor and Preston Royal Cleaners had to consolidate operations into one shop. Their businesses were among the worst hit in Preston Royal Village. Owners John and Yoon Seok also lost their Midway Hollow home and had two cars totaled. Two other cars are in the shop being repaired.

The dry cleaner side of their business was severely damaged, and the family can’t proceed with repairs until the roof is fixed, said Reina Seok, the couple’s daughter who also works in the business.

They still don’t have power and have been operating on two generators, but the smallest generator was stolen this week.

Lucy’s Tailor shop has been there 20 years and the cleaners 17 years, Reina Seok said. “Some customers are understanding, but some are not.”

Lucy’s Tailor and Preston Royal Cleaners are on the same power grid as Einstein Bagels, which was severely damaged.

Right across the parking lot, Shake Shack, Ken’s Man’s Shop, Cousin Earl, Sports Clips Haircuts and Snap Kitchen have power and are open.

Signs at The Toy Maven directed customers to a new temporary location that opened Friday at Preston Road and Forest Lane. Owner Candace Williams says she’s hoping to salvage the holiday season.

Employees, former employees, toy vendors from the Dallas Market Center and friends were on hand Thursday to help her set up the new location.

The walls need painting, but Williams didn’t want to wait the two or three days it would have taken to get the paint fumes out of the 7,600-square-foot space. Most toy stores make all their profits for the year in November and December.

The temporary space used to be a real estate office. What was an office supply room with a large work area in the middle seems perfect for holding all the arts and crafts toys, Williams said. Another office will be filled with trains. Some of the names are still on mail room cubbies.

They’re making do with what they have, Williams said 24 hours before she planned to open. She was more upbeat than she’s been since her store was flooded from the roof damage.

“It’s going to be an adventure,” she said. “We’ll be as ready as we can and open for the season.”

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Preston Hollow East Homeowners Association
PO Box 25528
Dallas, Texas 75225

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